Make It Better Yourself: In-N-Out Burgers

It happens at least once a week: Someone asks me if I miss living in California, a question I find truly appropriate. After all, I did live there for 47 years and in some ways, we are still adjusting to a much different life in northern Colorado.

My inquirers assume my list of missed things will start with the weather, followed closely by the beach and Disneyland. But honestly, those are not on my short list of just three things: Our older son, our friends, and In-N-Out.

photo credit: BenFrantzDale

We take care of the first two things with monthly trips back to our old digs to catch up with family and friends and take care of business. Here’s the funny thing: We hardly ever hit an In-N-Out burger joint. That’s because I’ve figured out how to make those burgers myself, hot and fresh, at home in Colorado.

As arrogant as that may come across to folks who are unashamedly part of the INO burger cult following, I’m serious. In fact—and I make no apologies for this—I believe mine is even better! There. I said it. And now, I’m here to teach you how to do it, too. 

But first, and in that In-N-Out Burgers are a California thing with some expansion now into Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and Utah, a huge number of my readers are likely to have never experienced this wonderful burger. Allow me to describe:

An In-N-Out Burger is always made to order. The ingredients are never frozen and of the highest quality and freshness. An In-N-Out Burger is saucy, even drippy. It’s juicy and slightly crunchy. The bun is soft and warm, but also toasted. The pickles are the perfect level of sour and they snap when you first bite into the burger. The lettuce is unashamedly iceberg, the cheese American and the tomatoes hot-house ripened. Customers get their choice of a raw onion slice or “grilled” onions, which are well caramelized so they’re sweet and slightly syrupy.

An In-N-Out Burger has several variations starting at the simplest with a “Single” with or without cheese all the way to “Double-Double Animal-Style.”

And now for your at-home dining pleasure, I present a recipe and instructions for how to make an In-N-Out Style Double-Double Cheeseburger with Caramelized Onions.


  • Ground beef, 4 ounces (1/4 pound) pre-cooked weight, per patty; 2 patties per burger
  • Buns, large and soft (Arnold is the brand closest to INO)
  • Dill pickle chips
  • Real American cheese, thickly sliced from the deli
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  • Kosher salt
  • Iceberg lettuce leaves torn to bun size
  • Tomato, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • Sweet onion slice or caramelized onions (prepared as below)
  • Yellow mustard
  • Spread, homemade (see below)
    • Mayonnaise
    • Ketchup
    • Sweet pickle relish


1. Preheat oven to 400F.

2. Arrange and assemble all of the ingredients.

3. Make the spread. Mix together in a small bowl: 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon ketchup and 2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish. Yield: About 4 tablespoons. You will need 2 tablespoons spread per burger.

4. Form two beef patties, pressing 2 ounces of beef flat to 4-inches in diameter. Sprinkle both sides with salt and freshly ground pepper. This is the only place you will be using salt and pepper, so let your personal taste be your guide. I use a lot.

5. Heat griddle or heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons olive oil. Sear patties on one side. Squirt some mustard on them as they cook. After just 2 or so minutes, flip the patties over so the mustard cooks into the second side (yes, you are frying the mustard). Cover each beef patty with a slice of cheese. After a couple of minutes or when internal temperature as reached 145 F on an instant-read thermometer, remove to a plate and cover loosely with foil.

6. While patties are frying, place closed bun in the hot oven for exactly 2 minutes.

7. To caramelize the onion, chop finely and then allow to cook in the meat juices that have formed. Turn onion often so it becomes brown and caramelized, but not burned.

8. Open the bun and place it on griddle or skillet so it “toasts” in some of the meat juices. Watch carefully so it gets nice and brown, but does not burn.

9. Spread 2 tablespoons of the spread on the bottom, toasted bun. Top with four dill pickle slices. Next, comes a slice of tomato and the lettuce. Lay one of the cheesed-up and mustard-fried beef patties on top of the lettuce followed by the raw onion slice or grilled onions, the second cheesy beef patty and then the top bun. By now you are noticing a lot of moisture aka sauce and drippings, which explains why INO wraps each burger in parchment paper. That’s it! A Double-Double Cheeseburger, INO style.

To make this a Single Cheeseburger, use only one beef patty and one slice of cheese.




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